This Week in Logistics News (July 9 – 15)

The other day I noticed a bug in my house and quickly said to my brother-in-law standing next to me “look at that bug! nasty.” He quickly replied as I moved toward it with a paper towel “don’t smush it. It’s a stink bug.” I said, “what is a stink bug?” He went on to inform me about stink bugs and how they smell terrible when smushed. I was naïve to this type of bug I had never seen and decided to Google it. It turns out that these bugs were recently, and accidentally, introduced to the US from east Asia.  Their presence is now most prominent in the mid-Atlantic region, but has been confirmed in 38 states. What does this have to do with logistics you ask? Well, the Environmental Protection Agency states that this species “was introduced into the United States in the mid-1990s, possibly stowing away in a shipping container.” Prior to this insight I thought there was no downside to the benefits brought to shipping from the standardized shipping container. And now on to this week’s logistics news:

Alphabet Inc. (Google’s parent company) subsidiary named Wing has developed a fleet of new drone prototypes designed to more efficiently deliver packages ranging from small pill bottles to items weighing as much as 7 pounds. For the time being, Wing LLC’s delivery test operation is sticking with its Hummingbird W-B aircraft, a hybrid that can take off like a helicopter and fly horizontally like a plane, Chief Executive Officer Adam Woodworth said in an interview. The Hummingbird has made hundreds of thousands of deliveries in Dallas suburbs, Virginia, Australia and Finland. The new drone prototypes use many of the same components, such as motors and guidance systems, and follow similar designs. But Wing is developing a robust R&D pipeline so the company can be prepared with a bunch of different aircraft that can meet different use cases.

The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles moved a record number of containers in June amid increased consumer demand and ongoing supply chain backlogs, the agencies announced Wednesday. In Long Beach, dockworkers and terminal operators moved 835,412 20-foot-equivalent units (surpassing June 2018 record). At the Port of Los Angeles, 876,611 TEUs were moved last month, marking the busiest June on record. Through June, the Port of LA has moved more than 5.4 million TEUs, matching last year’s record-setting pace, according to the agency. Long Beach, meanwhile, moved just over 5 million in the first half of the year—up 5.3% from the same period last year. The influx of cargo is due to several reasons, according to port officials. The lifting of pandemic-induced shutdowns in China, retailers restocking and robust e-commerce are all driving the record-setting amount of containers through the ports, they said.

Walmart said Tuesday it signed an agreement to buy 4,500 all-electric delivery vehicles from Canoo, the electric vehicle startup. A Canoo spokesperson disclosed that these are binding preorders, beginning with Canoo’s branded “Lifestyle Delivery Vehicle.” The Canoo EVs will be used by Walmart workers to deliver online orders. The EVs may also be used for Walmart GoLocal, the retailer’s delivery-as-a-service business, according to the companies.

Walmart is opening a new fulfillment center in Shippensburg, PA. This facility will be dedicated to e-commerce and third-party marketplace orders. The center will be used to store millions of items available at Walmart.com and to fulfill Marketplace items shipped by Walmart Fulfillment Services (WFS), Walmart’s fulfillment service for third-party e-commerce sellers. The facility is part of a broader initiative to add more capacity into Walmart’s supply chain as the retailer prepares for growth.

If you get the feeling that you’re getting less for your dollar at the grocery store, there is now more hard evidence that your feelings are accurate. Inflation remains on a tear, especially when it comes to food costs which rose 10.4% in June from a year ago, the largest increase since 1981. Consumer prices jumped 9.1% last month from a year earlier, according to the latest Consumer Price Index report from the US Labor Department. The “Food at Home” category jumped even more, rising to 12.2% from the same time last year. According to the latest data from Datasembly’s Grocery Price Index, baking goods jumped 7.6%, snacks such as cookies and chips increased 7.5%, and dairy and eggs were up 6.9% across the US, the research firm said Tuesday. I wonder personally, to what degree fuel and transportation costs are responsible for the increase in grocery prices. I am guessing there is quite a bit of cost-push inflation from logistics.

That’s all for this week. Have a good weekend, don’t smush stink bugs, and enjoy this week’s video, “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits.

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